This year's University of the Philippines Graduation Speech has been making waves lately (in terms of backlash in the blogosphere), but contrary to all those people who reacted violently, I find it quite refreshing to hear about a different kind of activism coming from a UP graduate. Gabriela M. Francisco, College of Music BM Voice, Summa Cum Laude, in her speech, urges fellow UP graduates to devote their education and skills to contribute significantly to the country. She asserts that patriotism is not only evident when you rally in the streets, but also (and more so) when you address your own responsibilities first.
This humble example of patriotism is no less valuable than going out to the streets to rally against the government. Gabi illustrates another side to the face of the stereotypical UP student in saying: "A lot of us have experienced the pressure to join rallies and boycott classes, or risk being called 'indifferent' and 'apathetic.' But such censure is neither fair nor complete if in sticking to one’s studies, by faithfully going to class and attending lectures, by fulfilling the mission given to oneself in the meantime, one always keeps in mind that time spent away from one’s studies is the money of one’s less fortunate countrymen gone to waste." (Let's not forget that UP, being a state university, offers education paid for by each Filipino.)
Not to put down the power of marching on the streets--in fact, it's the marching that made Filipinos famous back in 1986--but it looks like some people only see (and aim for) big-bang resolutions all the time. Whatever happened to the saying "If you want change, start with yourself"? Truth is, a lot can be done through the "quiet ways" too. And Gabi is just one to point out how much help fully committing oneself to one's studies (and work, if you're not a student anymore) can give to the country we all love.
But instead of hearing her out, some people who commented on her speech (read comments to speech in link above) not only expressed their disagreement, they also attacked her being a Music Major--and made assumptions about her personality. (There's even a poem on it--how much time do these people have to waste anyway?)
There are ways to argue your cause, and this is not a good example of them. Opinions will always differ no matter where you are--that's why humans were given a mind in the first place. Disagreeing with an opinion is one thing, putting it down as irrelevant (and attacking the speaker personally) is another. Is it so hard to disagree without calling names, picking fights and making unfair assumptions? Oh, I suppose not when you're always hoping for a big-bang turn of events--honestly, if you want a dose of that, why don't you watch those showbiz "news" shows? There are enough petty fights going on there to feed the hungry.
I'm sure activism can go a long way if the people promoting it would just stop criticizing and start doing. Just think about the time and effort it took them to put down Gabi (and her speech) and compose a silly and useless poem about her. They could've used that time educating people about their rights or making a difference. Instead they decide to pollute the Internet. So many capabilities, all put to waste.
On a related note, I've honestly never seen a rally flyer in UP without the obligatory name-calling. I'm sure you're all very smart--I just hope you'd show it more often.